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Discussion pushes view ordinance into further review

Concerns of Laguna residents prompt committee to keep on looking into how to revise current regulations.

December 05, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Laguna Beach residents on Tuesday night picked apart a proposal to alter the current city ordinance relating to views, rendering the process, in its 12th month, a work in progress.

The city's View Equity Committee, during a public meeting in council chambers, listened to 36 speakers touch on a variety of topics, including the date a resident can use when determining if he or she is entitled to a certain view and the number of locations a homeowner can claim as a primary view.

After two hours of public testimony and discussion, the committee determined the proposed ordinance is not ready to go to the City Council for review. The committee will revise it and return for another public meeting, committee Chairman Larry Nokes said.

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The nine-member committee, which includes Planning Commissioner Ken Sadler, Design Review Board member Roger McErlane and landscape architect Bob Borthwick, will focus on four areas: the date a resident can use to establish a pre-existing view; how many viewing locations a resident can claim from the property (the proposal limits homeowners to one primary view); whether to include portions of the city's current hedge height ordinance, which the committee wanted to repeal, in a new view ordinance; and whether a tree can be removed without the owner's consent, Nokes said Wednesday.

The committee has spent nearly a year holding public meetings, talking with officials in Palos Verdes and Tiburon — in Marin County — about view ordinances in those areas, and working with city staff to craft a revised ordinance that provides clear guidelines on ways to preserve and restore views.

Some residents said the proposal lacked clarity, while others wondered whether certain homeowners would have any recourse to claim a view.

The latter issue concerns the date homeowners can use to determine whether they have a right to a pre-existing view, one from a "primary location on the property that is not significantly impaired by vegetation and that existed either on or after the date the owner acquired the property or Nov. 4, 2003, (the effective date of the current ordinance relating to view preservation), whichever is later," according to the proposed ordinance.

Residents who bought homes after 2003 wondered whether they would have a right to a pre-existing view.

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